I have felt for some time, as one little thing happens after another...that the very definition of FREEDOM in this country is at stake.
Then, Al Gore stood up today and said the President was willfully breaking the law in his pervasive wiretaps of Americans.
It was a surprise to me -- I thought "HEY! There he is! I haven't seen Al Gore in AGES!"
Then, more seriously, I thought a lot about what is being claimed. We have, as part of our Bill of Rights, an Amendment to the Constitution that is supposed to protect me against "unreasonable search and seizure".
Does that mean that anyone with a voice in the wilderness that speaks against the current government's actions should be investigated as "reasonable search" because I might be part of some greater conspiracy to bring down the government or do harm to the American People?
I don't think so.
I was talking to my nephew the other night, and he asked his Mom "Why The Iraqi War is important?" She thought "Well, this is a fun question, let's make Aunt Jules answer it."
So I got on the phone with him and explained that while I didn't think that we should have gone there in the first place -- now that we're there our job is important to bring freedom to a country that didn't have it before.
I explained what freedoms are -- Freedom to Assemble (I can go downtown with a giant sign with 1000 of my friends and say that I don't approve of the war). Freedom of Religion (freedom to go to church, synagogue, mosque, or NO church at all). Freedom of Speech (I should be able to say "I DON'T LIKE THE PRESIDENT'S POLICIES" without someone coming to my house, taking me out of it to jail or to shoot me).
Then I explained how people in that country could never vote for even a dog-catcher before, and now they were trying to vote for a government to make decisions about the stuff governments do -- healthcare, schools, budgets, all the exciting stuff 10-year-olds like my nephew think about.
I've been to Europe a couple of times recently. I understand other countries have more pervasive surveillance than we do. But we're not them. We're supposed to be free in a sense that even the French and British can't and don't emulate.
There is a price for giving up that freedom, and I know that more than anything, one of the reasons I stay here -- one of the reasons I sleep at night -- is knowing that the government has no right to knock down my door, listen to my phone conversations, or scan my e-mails, just because I might be a dissenting opinion.
I do not think for a moment that I am safer as a result of the President's disregard for the 6th Amendment. A judge could easily approve the legitimate wiretaps that need to be made, and the rest of us should be free to discuss what we want to, when we want to, on what media we choose.
I hope that Al Gore's statement is seen as the public service that it is.
Let the investigation begin.